Having always declared myself the Steven Bradbury of all things technology, the fact that I have to use social media to market myself these days seems about as appealing as kale. If it was up to me, I’d still be using a Nokia 3210 and playing snake. Although my Twitter profile says I joined in 2009 (which seems like I had my jazz shoe on the pulse) – the truth is, I wanted to stalk an ex’s Twitter, so I created a fake profile using my email. It then lay dormant until I recently discovered I had 17 followers. Boom.
Back in 2013, an Australian music theatre audition brief allegedly specified applicants should have over 10K followers on social media to be considered for a leading role. Whilst this caused uproar, (that social popularity was more important than ability)- hasn’t this always been the case? As with star casting, our followers are a currency or ‘score’ of our public popularity. A producer can now quantify our worth rather than speculate.
The good news for us is, social media is far reaching, free and easy – you don’t need to be on TV or film to achieve a big following, you just need to post pics of yourself semi naked. Though, one must remember, that whatever you post, can be seen by anyone (read potential employers) and it’s important to protect your professional reputation.
You can craft an online presence, which makes you just as valuable (to a producer) as a TV star. A quick survey of musical theatre stars and their followers shows: Kristin Chenoweth – 1.01M , Audra McDonald– 138K, Gavin Creel– 33K, Kelli O’Hara– 28k, Delta Goodrem– 495K, Sean Hayes– 271K, Matthew Morrison– 998K. How’s this for numbers: Matthew Morrison is currently staring in the show Finding Neverland on Broadway. If all his twitter followers came to see the show, he could sell out 83 weeks alone in a 1500 seat theatre. That’s big business.
Robbie Ranieri is a social media expert. He was once a stockbroker in NYC before leaving it all for a career he loved. He now works for himself, running social media channels for several large businesses as well as theatre events such as Twisted Broadway. He has a YouTube channel and Twitter called, Robbie Social, which has over 30K followers. Here are his thoughts on the importance and ‘how to’ of social media.
Social media connects you to your audience
Social media is the only means a fan has to connect with a celeb, industry or person. If you are savvy, it enables you to craft your artistry to what the market wants, thereby making you more relevant and popular. Khloe Kardashian said, ‘social media is how we find out what our audiences want’. Regardless of what you think of the Kardashians, you can’t deny their commercial success. They change with the market- because they have their finger on the pulse via social media.
Find your best platform
You don’t need to be across every platform- Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Facebook etc., just those that are relevant to your field. For example, performers do well on Instagram and YouTube, whereas, news organizations and journalists do well on twitter as they constantly have new information to put out. Interior designers, fitness people etc., or anything aesthetic will do well on Instagram. Don’t be on Twitter if you’re not going to be vocal or put in the effort. Consider this- there is no point dancing on a radio or magazine, if you’re a writer, there is no point in YouTube. Be judicious.
Make sure your posts are interesting, funny or will add something to the day of your followers. We don’t need 500 pics of your children or dog. It’s important to be as authentic as possible- your audience aren’t silly, they can see through inauthentic material. The life at work of an actor is a whole different world to the public and they find it fascinating! This is why documentaries are having such a comeback- people want the inside information they can’t get anywhere else. Let people see that.
Post frequently – but quality trumps quantity
For most channels such as FB/Instagram, post once or twice a day. Twitter 5-10 times a day. YouTube- once a week. Make sure it’s good content. It is probably better to post nothing than to post poor content.
Limit your self promotion
Gary Vaynerchuk who runs VaynerMedia in The US says that, posting should be like boxing. Start with number of jabs (non-promotional posts), then a hook (self promotion)- if you are constantly hooking someone in the face they will get knocked out, stop listening and stop following you. Mixing it up is so important- it keeps your audience interested. Nobody wants to listen to constant self-promotion; it will have the opposite of the desired effect.
Model your activity on someone who does it well
Find some people who you love to follow, and whose content is varied, interesting and relevant, and model your social media platforms from there. For example, Lady Gaga is someone who posts consistently interesting material. There is lots of ‘behind the scenes’ posting which allows her fans to feel they have special access to her life. This type of material is fascinating to people outside the industry- nowhere else can the pubic get access to that sort of information- that’s why its fascinating.
Be clever with hashtags
Often you see people just using hashtags as a joke, without linking a post to any particular conversation. On Twitter, it’s easy to see what tags are trending and then you can enter a conversation by using that tag. More people will see your content, and start following you.
Make sure you include your website and other handles in your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook bio. Also include social media icons on your website and email signature, so people can get in contact with you easily.
Optimise your posts
Facebook uses algorithms to work out who will see your content. So when you post, it doesn’t come up in the feed of every single one of your friends. This is why it’s useful to test the timing of your posts to see when you receive the most engagement. On that note, posts with media (an image or video) on average receive much more engagement than posts that do not include a form of media. Pictures still do best on Facebook.